Like many of today’s CBSRMT fans, I was listening to the show when I was supposed to be fast asleep, getting a good night’s sleep for the next school day, but instead, I stayed up late with my ear next to the clock radio: you remember the type, with the numbers on plastic cards that flipped each minute.
During the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, radio was the major form of home entertainment, but this was quickly replaced by the television in the 1950s and 60s and the old time radio programs of yesteryear faded away. That is, until Himan Brown successfully resurrected radio drama in 1974 with his creation of the CBSRMT. This nightly adventure into the macabre gave us, the television generation, the opportunity to relive those bygone days by swapping the television for... well, let's hear it from E.G. Marshal himself as he expressed it at the conclusion of one of the broadcasts.
While I personally did not record these episodes, 1399 in total, thankfully many of my fellow fans did and my appreciation goes to them for preserving a part of my childhood memories. Many of these recorded programs include the news at the top of the hour, including such topics as Watergate scandal and the Patty Hearst abduction, as well as the commercials, such as this True Value advertisement for a $3.99 8” Crescent wrench (compared to $13.97 today), providing a nostalgic experience.
The very first episode, The old ones are hard to kill, aired on January 06, 1974 and stars Agnes Moorehead, most famously known as Endora on the television series Bewitched. The final episode, The boatman and the devil, starred Alexander Scourby and aired on December 7, 1982.
Other famous actors have made appearances in many of the episodes.
Fred Gwynn, most famously remembered as Herman Munster stars in The tell-tale heart (clip / full episode).
CBSRMT’s adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Oblong Box stars Richard Mulligan (clip / full episode).
Morgan Fairchild stars as Ann Fairchild in the episode The Infernal Triangle (clip / full episode).
John Lithgow stars in The Victim (clip / full episode).
Kim Hunter, best known as Zira in the 1968 Planet of the Apes stars in The Sighting (clip / full episode).
If you are interested in more of the episodes or acquire all of the episodes for yourself, they are available at the Internet Archives.
CBS Radio Mystery Theater Timeline